Euro 2011 - Dan's Diary

Saturday 2nd July - Another day in Sondrio

As the flying had been so good the oxygen bottle had decided to empty itself. After a bit of chin wagging with the local glider pilots and a bit of web surfing we found a small factory on an airfield at Valbrembo (just north of Milan) that could refill it. Although I was still cursing the bl***y things, the church bells were quite handy as an early start was needed to get to the factory, and then back again to get the best out of the flying day. A quick breakfast and we were back on the road, this time with Ed at the wheel.  A blast along the side of the rather stunning upside down Y shaped Lake Como along the motorway brought us into Lecco.

Luckily we had a TomTom so once we were in Lecco there was no chance that we could get lost. So confusion arose when it sent us through the narrow residential back streets, then along the bottom of a mountain pass and along the beading track only to find ourselves being put back onto the main road we were on previously. And the reason for the TomTom taking us onto the mountain track – it was 0.2km shorter than the direct main road (but 10 minutes longer)!

The airfield itself was very welcoming and consisted of a gliding club, a power club, a workshop and a glider factory. The airfield also had a tennis court and a swimming pool – do we have anywhere we can put these at Dunstable? As we waited for the oxygen to be refilled we took a wonder around the variety, and some weird, looking aircraft – one which had stickers attached to the side from a variety of destinations around the world, including Mataveri International Airport on Easter Island – one of the most remote islands in the Pacific. Despite this, I think the 3 of us agreed that no one would ever catch us in it – it looked like a death trap!

With the oxygen refilled we made our way back to the airfield, this time ignoring TomTom’s suggested diversion. Back at the airfield we got the glider ready but the soaring conditions had yet to come to the valley. So, Ed and Rob being Ed and Rob you would have expected them to take off anyway and work their magic to grind away from the valley and find some stonking conditions elsewhere. Well, you would be exactly 100% cor... wrong! We lounged around with an ice cream instead, chatted to the locals and waited for the tiny puffs of Cu to form on the top of the mountain range. As soon as one of them spotted the tiny cumulus appear a shout of joy was heard and the Binder was towed to the end of the runway and launched immediately!

The aircraft got airborne and I watched for the next 30mins or so as they were grinding fairly locally at mid mountain height. Eventually they got established and I was left to my own devices.

I popped back to the B&B for a bite to eat only to hear as I walked through the door the easily recognisable high pitched, rapid ‘beep beep beep beep beep beep beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep’. As I stuck my head around the rear of the bar I could see the Traversi family, two sitting and two standing, glued to a laptop watching the videos and viewing the pictures from the previous days flying. Future pilots in the making I wondered to myself?

After some lovely, fresh, homemade green tagliatelle and a quick catch up on what was going on in the world, I headed back to the airfield. The temperature was its weekly average 34 degrees C so some lounging was to be done, but I thought I better be a little bit productive so I started to read through the ‘Aircraft (General)’ PPL exam book – something I had meant to have started a long time ago, although I’m sure I dozed off for a bit.

The evening was lovely, the sun was shining and the temperature was ‘just right’. We dined outside in the courtyard with the Traversi’s listening to fascinating local history of Berbenno, and of course with a couple of refreshing beers, although Ed went for some random spirit too.